On a recent visit to the USA I was invited to meet with executives of HP’s Inkjet High Speed Production Solutions division to discuss the current status of its program for the HP T300 inkjet web press. I found this to be an interesting visit as almost nothing had been written about what HP had been doing by either the trade press or the industry analysts following Print 09.
There has been much discussion about association consolidation and the limited funds industry suppliers have to support many of the organizations and events in the industry. I want to discuss the PRINT 09 event that is organized by the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC).
Yesterday’s announcement that Canon is to acquire all the shares of Océ is obviously of great interest. Canon and Océ aim to create the overall No. 1 presence in the printing industry building on an enhanced scale and a combined history of innovation and excellent client servicing. The combination of the two companies is designed to capitalize on excellent complementary fit in the product range, channel mix, R&D and business lines.
I have just attended the IMI European Ink Jet Printing conference in Barcelona. One tends to think that inkjet printing is something new but this was the 17th annual conference on this subject. One tends to forget just how long the inkjet technology has been around and also just how long it has been used in the graphic arts markets.
The traditional role for the magazine publisher in the graphic arts market has been to publish news and articles about the industry, provide a medium for advertisers to get their messages across to readers, and in some cases provide seminars and tutorials, and for some publishers to run prestigious printing award events. What we are now seeing that some of these publishers are successfully extending their role to providing this information via the web as well as by printed means, and in certain cases this can be on a daily basis.
Last year at drupa Xerox Corporation introduced a number of new products, two of which I want to cover in this article. The first is the Xerox iGen4 press and the second is the Xerox Automated Packaging Solution for the digital printing and production of folding cartons for packaging. Today, these two products make up the Xerox Automated Packaging Solution powered by Stora Enso Gallop. The automated digital system can print a variety of personalized packages in multiple languages. The packaging system can quickly switch from one job to the next, providing the flexibility needed in today's global and rapidly changing marketplace.
Océ has for a long-time been a company that had excellent communication with its clients. For many years it has run an annual event, the Océ OpenHouse. This was a multi-day event at which Océ’s customers and prospects were invited to attend, plus a large number of analysts and press also attended. It was claimed that this was the largest digital printing fair in Europe.
It is not very often one comes across what could be termed industry changing or breakthrough products. I believe what I am writing about today could be such a product. One subject that has exercised the brains of many of the best technical experts in the industry is that of screening. It is also a subject that has generated a great degree of income for the patent lawyers who work with this industry’s suppliers.
Print’09 has now taken place. Unfortunately I was unable to be there but I have followed the event and comments about the event on a wide range of media. From this I have come to a number of conclusions, however I’m sure many attendees will not agree with what I concluded about the event.
When we go to a major print show the major attraction for all of us is to spend time looking at the latest presses, whether these are conventional or digital. We love to see all the latest innovations on these presses to see just how efficient they are. Most printers yearn after the latest presses thinking how much they will improve their businesses with the productivity they can offer. I have to say that I too love looking at presses and there will be many new innovations in this area at Print’09 to attract the attention of visitors. There will be presses, some being shown for the first time in the US, in sizes from B3 through to VLF in the offset area. In digital many people will focus on the high-speed continuous feed presses, although two of the major suppliers, HP and Kodak, will not be showing these at the show.
Did you know that there is a company whose business is printing, that calls itself a printing company, but which is categorized as a high-growth organization by many organizations like Deloitte and Inc Magazine. The company is Mimeo.com and Deloitte identified it as the 25th fastest growing technology company in the New York region in 2007. Admittedly in 2006 it held the 10th spot on this list so its growth is slowing slightly. However since few companies that call themselves printers ever make it on any list for rapid growth there must be something special about Mimeo. Also very few printing companies have a list of investors including venture capital, private equity funds and innovate leaders in high technology.
In the previous article on the Kodak event in Dayton I concentrated on the Kodak Stream continuous inkjet technology and the new Kodak Prosper Press platform. At this event Kodak also spent time on covering the Kodak Versamark VL series continuous feed inkjet color presses and the Kodak Nexpress SE and Digimaster EX300 sheet fed digital presses.
Following the drupa event last year the major question that was being asked was what impact the new continuous feed color inkjet presses would have on the offset printing market. The vendors of these new presses took different positions in the areas of the market where they felt their presses were most appropriate. Most of them certainly saw their presses impacting in certain areas of the offset market where moderate quality on uncoated paper was a requirement, for example for newspapers and books.
Occasionally there are developments within this industry, often referred to as disruptive technology, that have the potential for fundamentally changing the market. The arrival of thermally imaged non-ablative CtP plates that came to market in 1995 is an example of such a disruptive technology. I have just come across another such disruptive technology that could have a similar impact to that of thermal CtP in changing the industry.
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